Meet the teachers (Brendan)

by ucclangcent

The upper-intermediate class has two teachers; myself, Brendan, and Seámas. As part of our interview series, it is only fair that the students get to interview the teachers too. Here is the second interview with Brendan.

Ahmad: Have you been taught something valuable from a student ?

Brendan: This is a really good question. One that has got me thinking. I always believe that they are as many opportunities for me to learn from the students as there are for them to learn from me. Many more, in fact. But to answer your question, what have I learnt? I think, the thing I have learnt is that people are the same the world over. It doesn’t matter about age, sex, religion, wealth or class; people are the same.

Christoph: Why did you become a teacher? What were your reasons?

Brendan: Initially, because I wanted to travel and there is a demand for learning English everywhere. Once I started I soon discovered that I really enjoyed it. I love the interaction with the students.

Wan: What is the difference for you between the best student and the weakest one? And how can you cope as need to keep your eyes on everyone?

Brendan: Language learners come in many different forms. There are those who will wait until they are sure of what it is they want to say is perfect and there are others who will just focus on communication, not caring if they make a mistake or not. In every class, there are students of different abilities. Through different class activities, I can learn what students’ strengths are.

Julie: Brendan, if you were not a teacher, what would you like to be?

Brendan: Another question that has got me thinking. I am very lucky. I love my job. No two days and no two classes are the same. I don’t spend time thinking about other jobs. But as I said, your question has got me thinking. I guess, if I could choose any job, it would have to be something creative. So, maybe a film director, or maybe a really clever bank robber.

Micaela: Did you travel? What was your favourite place?

Brendan: The one thing I miss from my single days is being able to head off travelling. Being married with young kids doesn’t give me many chances to explore new places. My favourite place? I don’t have just one. If it is cities, I would choose three: Tokyo, Hong Kong and Barcelona. For amazing scenery: Death Valley in California. And somewhere I would love to return to: Machu Picchu in Peru. My dream holiday: Easter Island. My wife would love to visit your country, Switzerland.

Sam:  How long have been teaching in UCC? Why you chose UCC?

Brendan: I have been teaching in UCC since 1999. Why UCC? It is my hometown university and I have many good friends here in UCC.

Khalid: You have a lot of experience in teaching and you seems to enjoy sharing your knowledge with young people and beyond that, your motivations is transmitted to your listener (and we know that motivation is the cornerstone of the learning process). Could you tell us individually what has motivated you to become a teacher  and what is motivating you on every days life basis?

Brendan: As I was saying, I love my job. I get to meet people from all over the world each day and learn about them and their culture. What motivates me as a teacher is seeing students become excited about their learning and realising they may not always need a teacher or a classroom to help them to make progress in learning English. I like the challenge of making classes interesting and relevant to the students’ interests and needs. It is very easy to become stale as a teacher. It is very easy to become lazy as a teacher. When I was in school I had some teachers who should never have been allowed near a classroom. It may be a long time since I was in their classes, but they still inspire me; inspire me not to be like them.

John: As you say,you have many students to teach.Therefore,you will have a lot of paper to wait for your corrections. So how do you keep patient and positive heart everyday?

Brendan: I am not a very patient person, but I do try to be a patient teacher. Yes, teachers can have lots of homework to correct. It is part of the job. In class, I stay patient by reminding myself that it is not my class, it is the students’ class. As for being positive every day, I don’t know have a specific answer, but I do know that no matter how tired or down I may feel going into a class, invariably, I come out cheerful and upbeat.

ARWA:  How do you find it exciting to be an English teacher? ( or: what would you advise English teachers to do to enjoy their time with the students?)

Brendan: It is exciting. I am repeating myself in this interview, but as a language teacher I am very lucky. The students I have are motivated. Motivating students to learn, or even to be taught can be the hardest challenge for a teacher. Rarely, do I have that problem. I find it exciting because each day is different, each student is different and together we can learn. What advice would I give English teachers? Listen to your students. Get your students to listen to each other. Help them to find out what it is they need and want to learn and how they can achieve this. There is an excellent quote from Penny Urr, that says there’s a great difference between a teacher with twenty years’ experience and one with one year’s experience repeated twenty times. It is important to keep fresh, stay up to date with new ideas and innovations. I was given good advice one time – enjoy your teaching, because if you don’t, nobody will. 

Mohammed: We know you like photography. Can you tell us a little bit about that? And could you tell me about your family?

Brendan: Photography is my main hobby, my passion. I spend a lot of time working on this, either out taking photographs (lately more with my iPhone) or later in front of the computer processing them. My preferred style of photographs is blur. I like to create art images. You can see my photographs here on Flickr. This year, National Geographic used this photograph in their magazine and online version. Getty Images have the license to some of my photographs and I get paid each time they are used.

I am happily married and have two little children; a five year old girl and a two and half year old boy. Both my parents are still alive and I visit them every day. I have a brother and sister who both live in Dublin. We are a close family. I am very lucky.